Israel’s Democracy On Way Out?

Democracy has been characterized as a poor form of government, but better than any other form tried so far. Hmmm.

Democracies claim that government is based on one man, one vote. In modern countries this is one person, one vote. The principle in either case is that members of one group (for example, the landed, the wealthy, the military, the clergy, etc) do not have more votes than any other person. But once a vote is held and government ministers are selected, the job of creating rules and regulations fall to a subset of the population. This is representative government and is considered a necessary compromise on one person, one vote.

Authoritarian governments often arise following a “democratic vote” when the “representatives” gradual cede power to a smaller group. Many think that “checks and balances” like the three branches of government the US has, has help guard against any group accumulating too much power. Three branches and a history of free speech have kept the US form of democracy reasonably safe for over two hundred years, a long time in terms of continuous government.

When Israel was founded, it was founded as both a democratic and a Zionist State. The democracy assured all residents the same rights under the law and Zionism assured that Jewish beliefs were protected.

Much has happened since Israel’s founding and Israel has been forced to defend its very existence against Arab invasions. Israel now occupies the West Bank and appears on a path to make this land part of Israel. Forgetting for a moment whether there is a legal basis for Israel to annex this land, the addition of the West Bank presents a serious challenge to Israel’s founding principle of “democracy” and “zionism”.

Simply stated the birth rate of the Palestinians will soon put them in the majority and in a true democracy, Palestinians could be expected to control the Israeli government in time.

With this backdrop, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appointment of Ayelet Shaked as Justice Minister has opened many eyes about the dangers of mixing democracy and religion. At some point citizens will be asked to choose between the two. Ms Shaked is an avowed proponent zionism and a Jewish State. Her party, the Zionist Jewish Home party is active in supporting expansion of settlements in the West Bank. Hmmm.

As Interior Minister, or Defense Minister, or even maybe Education Minister, Ms Shaked’s party and views might be not unexpected. As Justice Minister, this seems totally out of place… if Israel is committed to democratic principles.

A democratic and zionist Israel, with its expansion of West Bank settlements, will have to eventually decide whether it want to be an apartheid State or one where “ethnic cleansing” is practiced.

Elevating zionism (theocracy) over democracy is a box one should be careful about opening. What say Muslim Brotherhood?

Explore posts in the same categories: Ayelet Shaked, Israel, Palestinians, Politics, theocracy

3 Comments on “Israel’s Democracy On Way Out?”

  1. List of X Says:

    You should read how Israeli government is formed – it’s almost always a coalition government, meaning that several parties that form the government (including the far right) get minister positions in exchange for participation in the coalition. So Shaked or some other far-right politician of Netanyahu’s coalition would be guaranteed to get some sort of a minister’s post. The eye-opening part would be when Shaked’s party joined the coalition, not the fact that they got this post.
    However, as far as I understand, all major decisions are voted on by the entire coalition government, which limits the influence of any one party.

    • X, thanks for the good points…

      Netanyahu’s majority is two votes I believe… so a minority extremist party which is part of his coalition might actually carry a disproportionate weight compared to its number of elected members… We shall see but this is just another step, IMO, that says Israel will eventual annex the West Bank and deal with the Palestinians who remain as second class residents (maybe not even citizens)…

      • List of X Says:

        At least having a coalition based on a Knesset majority ensures that the coalition represents the majority of those who cast votes, which is not always the case in the US in either the Senate, the House, and sometimes even the Oval Office (unless, of course, they have some sort of gerrymandering over there too.)
        I’m pretty sure Israel has no interest in annexing West Bank. They annexed Jerusalem and Golan Heights, but annexing West Bank will quickly turn Israel in an Arab majority state, and they can’t have that and survive as a Jewish state for long.

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